The Art of Surprise

Lots of beginning writers pen stories with surprise endings. Surprise! your quirky narrator was actually a bowling pin . . . Surprise! they were on Mars the whole time! . . . Surprise! This is such a ubiquitous phenomenon that books on the craft perennially warn against using such trickery. Jerome Stern gives precisely this […]

Christian Virtues in Dystopian Fiction

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Lois Lowry’s The Giver, Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report. Dystopian fiction. That brand of sci-fi that imagines a future world in which the powers that be—usually overzealous, overpowerful governments—have taken radical steps to ensure the well-being of […]

Unhappy Endings

Most of us will readily acknowledge the value inherent in the Happy Ending. Christians particularly make much of it, and I’ve discussed in numerous other places how stories with such endings reflect the ultimate realities of our universe. But what about unhappy endings? Is a story that lacks clear redemption—or in which a character’s misfortunes are […]

Fiction and Fear

In all meaningful fiction, there exists an element of fear. It may lurk more or less in the background, more hidden in some stories than in others, but it’s there. This seems to hold true even outside the genres you’d expect to incorporate fear—horror, thrillers, weird fiction. The dynamic of fear is also hard at work […]

“Weird Fiction” and Christianity: Strange Bedfellows

Ever wonder where the word “weird” comes from? Ultimately it derives from the old Anglo-Saxon word “wyrd,” which basically meant “fate.” The original meaning is often still felt. As Michael Moorcock points out in the “Foreweird” (ha!) to a gripping new collection of stories, “should you mention a coincidence to someone, they are likely to […]

The Responsibility of the Christian Writer

As an apologist and academic who works in the field of imaginative and literary apologetics, and as a working poet, I often think about what it means to be a Christian writer. I believe it’s a serious vocation; writing is a gift and a calling, and it can be a form of ministry — but […]